Body Counts

Kristin Camitta Zimet



Pissants, we boys called them,
those sweaty afternoons when sun
bored down. Too old for bikes,
we slouched down alleyways,
past marbles and stickball, kicking up
stones, knocking clods, boiling for
something to go after, even if it was
so small you hardly could call it
alive—invisible legs pumping,
tiny bodies veering into cracks,
a whole barrio milling at fiesta,
a congregation swarming out of church,
breaking apart—so small you had to count
in multiples, slinging out numbers,
pissing hot, zinging a dozen at a time,
the splash patterns themselves becoming
a distraction, a design in dust,
our smoking signature.



“Go find another body,” my Buddhist neighbor
shouts. Through walls riddled with frass
I hear him dancing, chiton crunching under
broken boots, tears skidding his beard,
the roaches streaming from the oven he has
lit for heat, fat as the thumb inside his hairy fist.
Om, he chants, hitting the speckled counters,
kitchen alive with feelers and with eyes.



The honey jar is thick with ants, the fast
piling on slower ones, a fracas, free-for-all,
everyone boiling upward with desire,
a silent Babel swarming toward the lid.
They stick inside my sponge. Finicky
swipes, the first few passes, and I cringe,
but then I get the hang of it: counter, sink,
squeeze and repeat. Having a rhythm
clears my mind. I lay a line of poison
and police the sill. I push aside
the sugar canister, the toaster rich
with crumbs, and one by one I find them,
huddling or cutting across obstacles as if
they had a right to sweetness just because
I leave it in plain sight. In half an hour
I’m taking pride in this, a simple
housewife’s chore, the stubbing out.


Photo: Deborah Carlon

Kristin Camitta Zimet is the author of Take in My Arms the Dark, a full-length collection of poetry. Long-time editor of The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and founder of a poetry performance troupe, she has work in a great many journals. Her newest poetry manuscript  brings to life paired voices from Torah.  She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, in the United States.


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